Charging EU citizens full international student fees to study in England risks “pulling up the drawbridge” after Brexit, higher education leaders and opposition parties have warned, calling on the government to clarify its policy.
EU citizens starting courses at English universities this autumn are eligible for student loans and tuition fees at the same level as English students for the whole of their course. But the Department for Education (DfE) is said to be preparing for higher fees for new EU students starting as early as 2020.
Universities UK, the group representing 140 UK higher education institutions, urged the DfE to clarify its intentions while the UK remained in Brexit limbo. A spokesperson for Universities UK said:
It is essential there is no further delay in the UK government confirming the fee status for EU students starting courses at English universities in autumn 2020. The recruitment cycle is already well under way.
The ongoing uncertainty is restricting student choice and the ability of English universities to recruit the best students from the EU. Whatever the eventual fee status of EU nationals, universities need at least 18 months’ notice of any change.
Since the referendum in 2016, the government in England has extended the current agreement of reciprocal fees each year, guaranteeing access to loans and domestic tuition fees for the duration of a degree course.
A DfE spokesperson also added that any changes will be announced ahead of time:
Last year, we announced that students from the EU starting courses in England in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be eligible for home fee status, which means they will be charged the same tuition fees as UK students. The government will provide sufficient notice for prospective EU students on fee arrangements ahead of the 2020-21 academic year and subsequent years in the future.
The DfE is developing a new immigration policy for post-Brexit study, including for students from the EU, who currently have no visa restrictions. But if the UK remains in the EU after next autumn, then pressure will grow on the DfE to extend the policy for at least a further year.
Source: The Guardian